Mike Reid may consider himself an underdog, but there is a certain amount of pit bull in him.
His definition of optimism is "to survive 11 years (on the PGA Tour) and not be sleeping in the street."As far as meeting Tom Watson in a playoff, Reid figured "if I had to play my caddy, I would've been just as nervous. Still, it would have been easy to pack it up and say I can't go another inch. I may be an underdog but not a quitter."
Reid earned $162,000 for the biggest payday of his 12-year career, holing a 2 1/2-foot par putt on the first playoff hole to edge Watson and win the rain-drenched $900,000 NEC World Series of Golf for only his second PGA Tour title.
Watson, failing in his bid to surpass Jack Nicklaus as the Tour's leading career moneywinner, had missed a 3-foot putt for par on the extra hole, the 410-yard, par-4 10th on the 7,136-yard Firestone Country Club south course.
"I did not hand this tournament to Mike Reid," said Watson. "I missed my putt, but he made his and he's a true winner. It's not winning money that counts, it's winning tournaments."
Reid had tied Watson for the lead with a 5-foot birdie putt on the 71st regulation hole, setting up the first World Series playoff in six years.
Reid, of Provo, boosted his 1988 earnings to a career-high $451,009. His previous victory, which qualified him for this winners-only event, came at the Tucson Open last September. Reid had a closing 1-under 69 and Watson a 68 to finish regulation deadlocked at 5-under 275.
"I can't believe it, but in another respect I never stopped believing," said Reid, who sobbed when thanking his family and long-time teacher John Geersten Sr. "Patience may be the key for me. You constantly have to repave the road. You never can say `I'm the finished product."'
Watson, who lost for only the fourth time in 12 playoffs, won $97,200 to up his career earnings to $4,971,113. Nicklaus has earned $5,002,825 and has led in career winnings since 1972.
"It's disappointing. I didn't make it hapen when I had to make it happen," said Watson, who has won 32 Tour events and five British Opens in an illustrious 18-year career.
Ian Baker-Finch of Australia and Larry Nelson each had 71s and earned $52,200 in sharing third place with 3-under 277. Only seven players in the field of 41 broke par.
Sandy Lyle of Scotland, the Masters champion, closed with a 71 for a 2-under 278 total and $36,000. Steve Pate's 64 was the best score of the fourth round and helped him tie Chip Beck for sixth. Beck's $31,350 payday pushed him ahead of Joey Sindelar for first spot on the 1988 money list with $691,012.
Baker-Finch, Reid and Nelson began the round tied at 4-under. While Nelson's game collapsed, Baker-Finch and Reid both had two birdies and a bogey on the front nine to go 5-under by the turn.
Watson was 3-under after nine holes, but birdied the 11th before rain halted play for 70 minutes and rolled in a birdie putt on the 14th to again reach 5-under and tie Baker-Finch and Reid. A poor wedge shot ruined Baker-Finch's chances with a bogey on the 17th hole. Reid lost a shot on the 15th when he missed an 8-foot putt to save par but again tied Watson with the birdie on the 17th.